of wars and their heroes and of conflict between monarchists and supporters of other political systems.
One story that stuck with me was the story of Abimelech. In this story, Jotham stood on a mountain over
Shechem and delivered a parable.
Why is this story relevant? Why should we care? Well, it reminds me of a few non-biblical stories. One
comes from Hamlet, in which Laertes rushes into Elsinore shouting, "To hell, allegiance! Vows, to the
blackest devil!" in his determination to avenge his father's death. Behind him rush the people of Denmark,
chanting, "Laertes shall be king! Laertes king!" The people have thrown their support to Laertes without
truly considering why, and Laertes is ready to kill. This leads directly to the play's tragic ending, in which
four major characters, including both Laertes and Hamlet, are killed.
Another story is that of how Hitler came to power. A third example is the case of Syrian President Bashar
The lesson of Jotham's parable holds true: when a leader is selected not on merit or worth but because of
that leader's treachery or because that leader appears bad but preferable to the alternatives, dangerous
Not only would I not know the story of Abimelech if I were not a Shoresh student, but I would also lack the
analytical skills necessary to see the connections and the potency of Jotham's parable had it not been for
the many enlightening discussions we have had at Shoresh.
Shoresh provides what a religious school is supposed to provide – knowledge of Tanach, of the Siddur, of
our culture and traditions – and does so amazingly well. But Shoresh goes above and beyond that, giving
students a set of skills that will be helpful in all settings, academic and otherwise.
(Class of 2012)
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